Monday, February 21, 2011

Somewhere Out There

Yesterday, while sitting in a diner with my kids and some friends, I heard the song “Somewhere Out There” by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram on the radio. It reminded me of an experience that Bobby and I shared very shortly after we met.

Bobby and I had one of those "love at first sight" romances. I never in a million years thought that "love at first sight" was true, but from the first moment we met, we knew it was special and we knew we would be together always.....except for the three week period that I was on vacation.

When I met Bobby, I had already planned a three-week trek in Europe with my friend Christina, which included a week long stay with another friend Jane who lives right outside of London. So ten days after Bobby and I met, I hopped a plane to Europe. I promised to write, and call when I could. He told me he would accept collect calls. I gave him Jane's phone number so he could call me while I was there.

One night while staying with Jane, he called me. It was about 5:00 am, London time, and midnight in New Jersey. At first, I was telling him all about the fun that Christina and I were having on our vacation, then the conversation turned to how much we missed each other. While we were talking, I looked out the window and saw the moon. Then I thought about the song, "Somewhere Out There". In the song, they sing:

And even though I know how very far apart we are,
it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star,
and when the north wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby,
it helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.

It gave me an idea. I asked him to take the phone outside and look at the sky. I asked if he could see the moon. He said yes. So I told him that I was looking at the moon also, and that it made me miss him a little bit less, because at that very moment, even though we were an ocean apart, we were both looking at the same thing at the same time. We could share something, even though we were physically so far apart. He said he thought that was "pretty cool", and said that every night while I was away, he would look at the moon, and know that I may be looking at it at the same time.

Yes, there are times when I feel connected to him, whether I am wearing his bathrobe, holding one of his guitars, or watching our kids. But I wonder if, and hope that he is there, too, sharing the moment, "looking at the moon" with me. I miss those shared moments. A lot.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Identity Crisis

One of my widow friends on Facebook posted something really interesting the other day. Her post said,

And my #1 tip for surviving winter.... STOP READING THIS. Read something that ISN'T about death, not by a widow, and NOT WRITTEN THIS TIME OF YEAR by someone who feels like you. Nothing current! Try fiction, or Scientific American, or something you can buy in the checkout line at the Supermarket! I'm doing this RIGHT after I log off for a bit, just like I do every year, because it's NECESSARY. What will you do?—Posted by SupaFreshWidow on Widowed Village (Widville) Facebook Page

I thought a lot about what she wrote, and at first I was surprised. She also has a blog that talked about her life as a widow, so why should she want to discourage people from reading it? Then I “got it.” It reminded me of an experience that a good friend of mine told me about that stayed with me since she said it, when I was about six months in...

My friend has an son who is autistic. He was born around the same time I had my son, and both boys are now 15 years old. I remember after she got the diagnosis of her son being autistic, that she went online and found tons of information about autism. For several years, she read blogs and message boards about autism, later contributing some of her own experiences to these. Being a writer, she even wrote some articles on living and thriving with an autistic child that were published in local newspapers and other periodicals. She also made local connections, and one of those connections turned into a lifelong friendship. She was the mom of an autistic son, and this was her life.

She then told me later on, that one day she had, like they say on Oprah, an “A-ha” moment. She stopped reading about autism. She stopped writing about it. She stopped going online and making the connections. She said that she realized that since she had totally immersed herself for several years into being the mom of an autistic son, that she stopped being who she was before. She had lost her hobbies, some friends, and did not do very much any longer with her husband or her other children.

Does she still take care of her autistic son? Of course! She makes sure that he has the best education for autistic children, and he has all the support at home that he needs to thrive to the best of his abilities. But she has shed the label “mom of an autistic child” and is just herself.

She told me this story because she thought I was immersing myself way too much into the world of widowhood. I thought about what she said, and told her that it was way too early for me to make such a decision. She understood. But later on that day, when I was alone, I started to question myself...was I labeling myself? Was I pigeon-holing myself, and concentrating too much on being “a widow” rather than just being “me”? I did not have an answer. And I’ve been struggling with this for a few months now.

But when I read the Facebook post, it made me realize that other widows might be struggling with the same issues. We can’t label ourselves, and we cannot immerse ourselves in “widow-stuff” 24/7! But we still need each other. And I realized that I am still me, even if I do frequent the widow pages on the internet and interact with other widows (and the occasional widower). It’s the same as working moms...they can be good employees AND good mothers. So I can still be a widow, while still being myself and doing other things, as well.

And now it is time for me to shut down my computer and watch a rented movie with my two sons.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My First Valentine's Day....Alone

Well, maybe not my first. Actually, I had a lot of Valentine’s Days alone, but they were easy to get through because I was young, single and had a lot of young, single friends who were more than willing to go out and have fun without men on Valentine’s Day. We even made fun of our friends who DID have Valentines!

This year was completely different. Since I spent the past 19 years thinking that I had a Valentine for life, this one just plain sucked because my special guy was not there.

Not that we made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. Every year, I would buy him a box of Queen Anne Chocolate Covered Cherries. And, in the beginning, he used to send me roses and big cards from the Hallmark Store, but after two kids and a mortgage, I would get the little card and the single red rose (and he still got the chocolates). All this meant so much to me....I didn't need the huge bouquet. Just the fact that I got a hug and a kiss and a “Happy Valentine’s Day” in the morning was special. Then we would go to work, come home, drive the kids to some activity, have dinner and go to bed. Dinner was usually pizza because he would say every year, “You shouldn't have to cook on Valentine’s Day”. That was sweet. That was all I needed.

This year, I got wrapped up in my son’s love life instead. He wanted to have dinner with his girlfriend, so I arranged with her mother (who is divorced AND happens to work in the same building as me!) for them to have dinner at a local nice Italian place. But of course, we had to eat, too, and our younger children had to eat, too, so the six of us had a nice dinner together. I’m sure that was not exactly my son’s idea of a romantic dinner with his girlfriend, but it had to do. We did let them sit next to each other.

The funny part was the strange looks we got the next day when we told our colleagues that we had Valentine’s dinner together the night before.